It was our first summer back at camp post pandemic, and although it may have been smaller in size than years passed, it in no way took away from the impact camp had on this next generation! This was also our first year with back-to-back camps, and we’re happy to report it was a great arrangement!

The first week we enjoyed youth camp with our guest speaker, Jeff Grenell. What an INCREDIBLE man of God with a heart that beats for the next generation! The first night he challenged students to say, “Lord, I give You my life, and I will not take it back!” Students stood on a box and declared this covenant truth in front of their peers and leaders alike. The second night Jeff gave space and opportunity to be unleashed from chains of bondage that hinder our walk with Christ. It was a powerful display and impactful moment where students, in their bravery, drew a line in the sand and celebrated freedom! The third night was Holy Spirit night where youth were invited to operate in the Spirit’s gifts and step out in faith to pray for others. On the fourth night our very own, Kevin Starkey, spoke intentionally and highlighted different Bible stories and how God’s passionate pursuit of love is interwoven in every story told, inviting us into relationship with Him. The night ended with an invitation to open the door of our hearts and let God indwell us. We had 200 students respond to the call.  Heaven was celebrating and so are we!

Only a few days later, we were gearing up for kids’ camp! Our guest speakers were Jason and Tamara Pool who are friends of Kevin Starkey. They did an amazing job keeping the gospel message simple, easy to understand and interactive, which kept the kids engaged. They were a joy to have pouring into our kids! Every night they handpicked volunteers to play a character in their live Bible story time, which was called “Bath Towel Theatre”. Kids dressed up in kitchen towels and bath towels to enact their character in the Bible story told for that evening. They also had unique and fun ways to help kids memorize scripture throughout the week by choosing volunteers to be “word nerds”. Kids would hold a word in their hand from the verse being memorized, and would take turns turning over different words to help with memorization. It was a real hit! This year we had the youth band from Waverly, IA lead our kids in worship. It was fun, truth filled and captivating! We heard many great reports about one-on-one conversations kids had with their counselors and we’re excited to see where God takes these kids!

While at camp both weeks, we took time to honor Kevin Starkey and the role he’s had as the Next Gen Director. Bruce and Robin took part in and lead this time of honoring Kevin.  We want to give a special thanks to all the churches who helped us celebrate Kevin and close out a special season in Open Bible Central Region. We are looking forward to what the future holds as we embrace this next season together.

As always and never a surprise, we had loads of fun.  There was also breakthrough and impact on another level this year and we are looking forward to next year! To all the staff, volunteers and counselors, THANK YOU! We couldn’t have done any of this without you!

Here’s to 2021 summer camps!

Ben & Lola Carlson

NEXT Generation Leaders

The GATHERING registration deadline is rapidly approaching and rooms are almost full!  Get more information here.